How To Find Dispersed Camping In Arizona
Fall is the time of year when snowbirds begin to flock south in their RVs in search of warmer weather. Dispersed camping in Arizona is the choice for many that make the annual pilgrimage. With nearly 42% of the state being public land, dispersed camping in Arizona is easy.
Dispersed camping, known as boondocking to RVers, is permitted across the state and not limited to the desert area many visualize when they think of dispersed camping in Arizona.
While most associate the town of Quartzsite, located in the Sonoran Desert, when someone mentions dispersed camping in Arizona, dispersed camping opportunities also exist along the lofty north rim of the Grand Canyon, the forested flanks of 12,637-foot Humphreys Peak, and the Chiricahua Mountains just north of the US-Mexico border. The reality is, dispersed camping in Arizona is a year-round opportunity as there are many climates and ecosystems to enjoy among the thousands of dispersed campsites available.
“Dispersed camping in Arizona is a blast. It’s free, easy to find dozens of campsites all throughout the state, and the camping areas are close to amazing recreation areas and hikes.” Nick the Rambling Man
How to find boondocking spots in Arizona
The highlighted links will take you directly to the camping / dispersed camping page for each agency.
Bureau of Land Management & United States Forest Service
- BLM (Bureau of Land Management) who also operates the LVTA (Long Term Visitor Areas) including Quartzsite.
- LVTA offer RVs extended stays for up to 7 months with the purchase of a permit. ($180 for up to 7-month stay, $40 for 1-14 consecutive day stays – no permit required in the offseason).
- USFS (United States Forest Service) allows dispersed camping in all six of its Arizona national forests. The six forest districts include Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott, and Tonto National Forest. Perform an online search using the name of the national forest combined with “dispersed camping” to learn more. You can also easily find USFS campgrounds by using the search filters when planning your route on RV LIFE Trip Wizard.
National Wildlife Refuges
Following are a few examples that allow dispersed camping in Arizona
- KOFA National Wildlife Area – You can also learn more about free camping at KOFA in our previous article here.
- Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
- Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
National Monuments in Arizona
- Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument
- Ironwood Forest National Monument
- Lake Mead National Monument
- Aqua Fria National Monument
Department of Defense
- State Trust Land – A permit required to recreate and disperse camp on State Trust Land ($15 for individuals and $20 for families)
Most Native American tribes offer recreation permits allowing non-tribal members to hike and camp on their lands.
Note: It is best to verify what type of camping is allowed and where, as terminology varies. Below are two examples of Arizona tribes that issue recreation permits:
Learn more about boondocking in Arizona
Keep in mind there are rules and regulations when it comes to dispersed camping in Arizona. With the exception of lands requiring a permit, dispersed camping is typically allowed for up to 14 days per month (as detailed below). Every camper will also need to leave no trace and dispose of all garbage when leaving the site.
Here is a video from Drivin & Vibin on the Top 10 Arizona Boondocking Sites for those of you that are looking to give dispersed camping in Arizona a try and need a little more information to get started:
Get out there and give dispersed camping in Arizona a try! You might find it is your new favorite form of camping.
Get RV-safe directions
Make sure you have the RV LIFE App installed on your phone or tablet for RV-safe GPS directions while you’re camping in Arizona. You can also plan your trip and find other great points of interest in the area when planning your route on RV LIFE Trip Wizard.